Stretchable Sensor Robot Virtual Reality
Photo credit: Cornell University
Researchers at Cornell University have developed a fiber-optic sensor that combines low-cost LEDs and dyes into a stretchable “skin” that detects deformations such as pressure, bending as well as strain. This technology is perfect for soft robotic systems and anyone using augmented reality technology, thus giving users the ability to feel the same rich, tactile sensations that humans depend on to navigate the natural world. Read more for a video and additional information.

The technology behind this sensor is a stretchable lightguide for multimodal sensing (SLIMS), or a long tube that contains a pair of polyurethane elastomeric cores. This dual-core design increases the number of outputs by which the sensor can detect a range of deformations. To make it wearable, the researchers designed a 3D-printed glove with a SLIMS sensor running along each finger, powered by a lithium battery and equipped with Bluetooth to transmit data to basic software that reconstructs the glove’s movements and deformations in real time.

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We know that soft matters can be deformed in a very complicated, combinational way, and there are a lot of deformations happening at the same time. We wanted a sensor that could decouple these,” said Hedan Bai, co-lead author.